Monday, April 14, 2008

Education, Smeducation

I don't have time to write this post. I've got my final research papers due this week and a research presentation to complete by tomorrow night. This is some very important work for me because it will be the last time I have an opportunity to be in school until after I finish the "project" I'm hoping to complete this summer. (The "project," by the way, is giving me heartburn and very much joy.)

When I was a child, I attended a very conservative Christian school for about 9 years. It was a difficult experience in many ways, not the least of these was that I was constantly made to attend to matters of Theological Importance often presented in inept and unkind ways. Honest debate between teacher and student was prohibited in most cases, and to attempt to engage in such debate was a punishable offense in many others. The teachers, you see, having adult brains with which to engage those of children, can easily nail you for such nebulous infractions as having a "bad attitude" or being "disrespectful." I, having been punished for each of these crimes at one time or another, have come to realize that they each boil down to asking questions. But you can't exactly punish a kid for asking a question in school now can you? (Or, can you? Insert sinister snicker here.)

Surprisingly, many of the students to be extruded from this sausage factory of education came out pretty well. Not surprisingly, many of the ones who appear to be doing pretty well are actually pretty damaged. Especially the ones who don't think so.

I don't usually think about this experience too much, but I'm recently reminded of how narrow the margins of "acceptable thought" can be in some Christian communities. Especially educational communities. I am dismayed that some institutions still don't allow honest questions. I am dismayed that the Christian educational community which was, let's face it, the Mother of All Educational Communities can be so, well, un-educational.

I don't even know what to say about this as I face the daunting fact that the educational choices we can pursue for our "project" are going to be limited to Dogmatic Christian Fascism and Radically Leftist Socialism. And that's if we're lucky enough to be able to pay for them. If we aren't, we'll always be able to turn to those schools run by the Federal No Child Left Behind Act. And that doesn't seem like a good choice either.

I am dismayed. Maybe I'll just buy myself a denim jumper and some Keds and do the job myself.

Nah. That's not going to happen either.

11 comments:

amanda hannah said...

you would look hot in a denim jumper & keds.

susan said...

Who doesn't, really?

amy :) said...

i totally understand being grouped into the bad attitude segment and really just being too smart for your own good...;)

and i'm not sure why, but i totally got a little warm thinking about a denim jumper and keds...

susan said...

I don't know that I was too smart as much as I was just confused. And I was raised by closet free-thinkers. (They're out of the closet now.)

And I think it's totally sick that you get the warm fuzzies about prairie garb!

Elisa M said...

Su-you are WAY TOO HOT for the jumper. I implore you, don't do it.

susan said...

Elisa, as hypocritical as it might be, in a pinch I might prefer the jackboot.

susan said...

Or, the beret for that matter.

steviewren said...

How many times have you been accused of "thinking too much" by those whom your questions have made uncomfortable (I ask as I raise my own hand)?

susan said...

When I left the private school and went to public school, I had one teacher who had an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a graduate degree from somewhere else fancy. He said "Feel free to ask questions. Question what I teach you. It's called learning." And I only realized a few years ago that he could do that because he had nothing to feel threatened about. I think that's key.

steviewren said...

I think what Aristotle said would apply to that non-threatened teacher..."It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

Too many Christians think they will be contaminated by honest contemplation.

susan said...

Well put.